Saturday, February 28, 2009

Young Superstars #33 - John Farrell

Another card with some extremely blurry fans in the background. And the second OSU alum in a row.

John Farrell's career was nothing to write home about. He posted a winning record in only two of his eight seasons and lost ten games or more three times.

Despite his less than great career, Farrell must know something about pitching. He was hired to be the pitching coach for the Red Sox after the 2006 season.

John Farrell's career statistics

Friday, February 27, 2009

Young Superstars #32 - Pete Incaviglia

The photo on the front of this card was mostly likely taken during the same game as the Jose Canseco card we saw a few days ago.

Pete Incaviglia had an outstanding career at Oklahoma State University, and still holds the NCAA record for home runs and RBIs in a season. In 2007 he was elected to the College Baseball Hall of Fame.

Incaviglia is one of a short list of players who went directly into the major leagues without stepping foot on a minor league field before hand. He was drafted by the Expos in 1985 but refused to play in the minors and was traded to Texas. Despite having never seen professional pitching before, and it shows in his batting average, Pete had an outstanding rookie season (1986) at the plate. Aside from the afore mentioned batting average (.250), he hit 30 home runs and drove in 88 runs. The next year he raised his average to .271 and still hit 27 homers and drove in 80. Not too shabby.

After retiring in 1998, Pete coached in the Detroit tigers organization and managed in the independant leagues.

Pete Incaviglia's career statistics

I can't type...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Young Superstars #31 - Todd Benzinger

Not a very good photo on the front of this card. It's a late afternoon shot with the shadow of the stadium creeping into play. The picture on the back looks a lot like a twenty five year old Ron Howard.

The Red Sox being pretty high on this guy when he came up, but he never really stuck in one place for very long. The only thing I can remember about him is that he played on the Reds 1990 World Series winning team.

Digging into his stats there's really not a lot to say. In 1988 and 1989 he showed a little potential for power at the plate, but never hit more than 9 home runs any other year of his career. He led the National League in both at bats and outs in 1989, nothing to be too proud of.

He's managing the Dayton Dragons, an A level farm team of the Cincinnati Reds system.

Todd Benzinger's career statistics

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Young Superstars #30 - Jose Canseco

Here we go. This is the biggest card in the set, at least in 1988 terms.

Canseco's got the rubber bat thing going on that Andy has mentioned several times on the 88 Score Rookies & Traded blog. And the ball is coming into the picture right along the righthand border. I wonder where that ball landed?

He's also got the field cap under the batting helmet look here, which is always nice to see.

What can you say about Jose Canseco's career that hasn't already been said? For all the things that he did wrong, I don't think there's a whole lot of us who grew up in the 80s who can honestly say we didn't like him (late 80s Dodger fans are .

Like I said months back when we were looking at the base release, I don't have a lot of respect left for Canseco, but I still like him. He was fun to watch in his prime, and he was almost painful and embarassing to watch as his career declined.

There are some who would argue that Canseco never really reached the potential he was capable of. In light of the steroid issue I don't know how valid of an argument that is. I'm sure side effects of the steroids played some role in the injuries he suffered later in his career.

But I'm not here to criticize him for what he did to baseball and what steroids have done to baseball. I'd like to, and I have a lot to say about it. But in the end, in 1988 there was no one in baseball that was more popular, larger than life and more fun to watch than Jose Canseco. And for that reason I'll always like him, even if I do know the truth about him.

Jose Canseco's career statistics

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

You learn something new every day.

I've always considered myself a pretty observant guy. I may have the attention span of an eggplant sometimes, but I usually pick up on just about everything that's going on around me. And despite playing the violin for nearly twenty years and listening to heavy metal for fifteen, I hear very very well.

But everynow and then something slips by.

I have lived in this town since I started college at Western Carolina University in 1999, nearly ten years. Driving home this afternoon I noticed something that's probably been there a lot longer than ten years, something that I've passed everyday that I've lived in my current house (nearly four years) and something that I should be pretty interested in.

Going down the road I just happened to look over and see a little building with a sign that said "SPORTS COLLECTABLES."

"What's this?" I ask myself. "How long has that been there? Why am I just noticing it now?" Now I've only been back in the hobby for about a year now, so this place wouldn't have been any interest to me a year ago, but you'd think I'd have noticed it.

So here I've been fretting over pack searchers at Wal Mart and whether or not they're going to have Heritage, and there's potentially a place not ten minutes from my house that could have cards.

The more I've been thinking about it lately, a little part of me doubts that Wally World is going to get Heritage. I didn't buy a lot of new cards last year, but the two sets that interested me the most, Allen & Ginter and Heritage, Wal-Mart never carried and therefore I didn't get any.

So I guess I'll be on the phone with this place tomorrow afternoon to see if I can pick up some Heritage on the way home.


Maybe not.  Now Heritage is supposed to be here on Friday.  grrr.

Goodbye to a Friend

I'm not an overly sentimental person.  There are a few things that mean a lot to me.  There are certainly things that I don't want to lose.  But I place more value on thoughts and ideas than I do on any materail item.

On the ballot for the general election in 2000, North Carolina added a bill to grant the state university system an astronomical sum of money for technology upgrades and construction.  The bill passed and I assume the money went out.

Construction at Western Carolina University didn't begin in force until after I graduated in 2003.  The campus today looks nothing like it did in my years there. But with the exponential growth that school has seen since 2003, they need the extra room.  In 1999 when I started there were around 6,500 students.  This year, including graduate students, the number is over 10,000.  Space is at a premium, housing is sorely needed and there has been a parking crisis for as long as I can remember.

In the summer of 2007 they began a major construction program in the center of campus.  The ultimate goal is to create a traditional college quad in the area around the student center's bell tower.  This meant tearing down two old dorms and a dining hall.  Sadly, one of the two old dorms was the one I called home for three years.

They started with Helder Hall, a girls dorm.  It was reduced to a pile of rubble within weeks and construction on the new hall begain soon after.  Leatherwood Hall, my old home, was supposed to come down soon after, originally in the winter of '07. When it was determined that that wasn't going to happen, they re-opened it to students for the 2008 spring semester.  And it's stood empty now since the middle of 2008.

With the two other buildings that will compose half of the new quad nearing completion, time is almost up for Leatherwood.  I drove through campus yesterday to find piles of rubble outside the dorm and most of the windows gone from two of the building's wings.  I got sad.

This evening, I went out to take some pictures before it's gone.

The first room on the first floor on the left side of the picture, partially obstructed by another wing of the building and an covered entrance, was mine.  Number 102.  I couldn't get any close than that and still see my room, I'm zoomed in to about 4x from a good 100 feet away.

There's a chain link fence running around the entire center section, I did find a few fairly hidden places that I could get in though.  So I'm debating how close I want to come to getting arrested for a few nighttime pictures.

As I said, all the first floor windows on another wing of the building have been taken out, and I'm pretty sure I could slip in un-noticed, but I just can't talk myself into sneaking in.  I do plan on going back another day to try and get closer.

The back wings, looking up. It looks like a prison and was built like a bunker, but it was home.


When they get around to tearing down the slum I lived in my freshman year, I won't care too much and I'll go cheer as it implodes.


According to Baseball Reference, six Major Leaguers attended WCU: Jared Burton, Paul Menhart, Dave Pember, Jerry Reed, Charles Thomas and Wayne Tolleson. The baseball program isn't the best in the NCAA's Division I (and neither is the basketball program, or football, but the girls rugby team won the national championship some years back).

Young Superstars #29 - Ken Caminiti

Caminiti is wearing a home jersey here, but there's what looks like a whole lot of white caps in the crowd behind him. They could be very blurry Astros logos though, but they almost look like the old Blue Jays caps that had a white panel on the front.

I'm curious where this picture was taken. I don't think it's in the Astrodome because you can see what looks like the reflection of the stadium, a light standard and the sky in his helmet.

Spring training maybe?

Who outside of Houston paid much attention to Ken Caminiti before 1994? Probably not a whole lot of people.

He started his career in Houston in 1987 but didn't really stick until 1989. His production at the plate was far from outstanding, hitting above .283 only twice in his first tour of duty with the Astros. His highest homerun mark was 18 in 1994. A far cry from the numbers he'd put up a few years later, but the Astrodome was never known as a hitter's park.

He saw a remarkable upswing in production and power, though, once he moved to San Diego. His RBI totals in San Diego were considerably higher than in Houston, a byproduct of hitting in a batting order that also contains Tony Gwynn.

Caminiti was a three time Gold Glover and All Star and won the NL MVP (100% of first place votes) after putting up great numbers in 1996.

After four years with the Padres, Caminiti went back to Houston before splitting the 2001 season with Texas and Atlanta.

In 2002, Sports Illustrated informed us that Caminiti admitted to using steroids during his 1996 MVP season. His admission was the first time an MLB player came forward and said "yes I did." He had also previously admitted to struggling with drugs and alcohol throughout his career.

Caminiti suffered from coronary artery disease and an enlarged heart, only made worse by his drug problems. He died on October 10, 2004 at the age of 41. The official cause of death was a heart attack, made worse by the high levels of cocaine and opiates found in his system.

This is the first player we've seen who has died since the printing of this set.

Ken Caminiti's career statistics

Monday, February 23, 2009

Young Superstars #28 - Robby Thompson

Robby Thompson was a two time All Star (though he didn't appear in either game), Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award winner. In 1993 he had a career year, hitting tenth in the league at .312, and earned his second trip to the All Star game, along with the afore mentioned Gold Glove and Silver Slugger.

He was hit in the face by a Trevor Hoffman pitch late in the 1993 season and was never really the same player. He came back and played sparingly through the end of the 1996 season.

Granted free agency during the 1996 off season, he signed with the Cleveland Indians but never played in a Major League game with his new team.

This is just the second card showing a player not batting or pitching. It's the first interesting one, the other was Terry Steinbach standing around in his catcher's gear.

Surprise Mail Day from Dinged Corners.

Not expecting mail today, I went to the box and found a surprise package from Dinged Corners.  YAY.

I alluded to it in my Young Superstars post about Matt Williams that regardless of the steroid allegations against him, and though he may not be my favorite player, I've always liked him.  For some reason he reminds me of someone I know, but I can't put my finger on who it is.  As much of a Dodger fan as I was when I was little, I always kinda liked the Giants too, but hey, I'm not from California so I'm allowed to like both.  Barry Bonds turned me away from the Giants, but that was ok.

While I've got the steroid issue on my mind... I don't condone it, and I can't really forgive it, but it was such a widespread problem in baseball, that at some point we as fans and the writers are going to have to stop and think.  How are we supposed to treat this era of baseball?  How can we compare the numbers from 1986 to 2003 with the period before and after?  I think the first step is to really explain how big the problem was, and the decide whether or not it was actually cheating.   If a player used a currently banned substance before it was banned was he cheating?  If a substance wasn't banned, and was available to everyone, then there's no inherent advantage.

I'm not saying this because a player I like (and there are more than a few) has been accused of juicing.  I say this because I love baseball and this is an issue that needs to be figured out sooner rather than later.  Whatever the case, it was wrong and tarnished the game, but it's time to start the recovery process.  Remember how many fans walked away after 1994?  This has the potential to do a lot more damage, I think.  But I'll move right along.

While we're on the subject of 1994, it was nice to see Ripken bring fans back in 1995 by breaking the streak, but I don't think baseball truly recovered until 2001.  When the Diamondbacks made it to the World Series in 2001 my first thought was "good for Matt... now go beat the Yankees."  And they did, and I was happy.  The 2001 World Series will go down as one of the greatest ever, and probably the most exciting that I've ever seen.

The best part about this package is that Patricia and Lucy included a card I've always wanted, but never was able to pull from a pack.

Admit it, it doesn't get much cooler than that! I love the big head Score All Stars, and this one is one of my favorites.

Also included are two Topps Heritage Matts. First time I've ever seen Heritage, so I'm even more excited to see '09 Heritage now. Also, a 1993 Score. I never realized that I'd never seen a '93 Score before. I've got lots of 88 (naturally), very few 89 and 90, a LOT of 91 and 92, and a stack of 94. But, until today, not a single 93. I like the design a lot.

My thanks go out to Patricial and Lucy, and be sure to keep reading Dinged Corners (or if you don't already, go read it).

My brand new top of the line stereo system...

After my new found interest in old time radio I decided I needed a top of the line stereo system in the bedroom to run my iPod into (for times when the computer isn't on).

Don't mind the cat and her demon eyes, she refused to move.

Beauty ain't she? Aside from the cost of the iPod, it cost a grand total of probably about ten bucks. The amp is a low end Pyramid 120 watt PA amp that I rescued from a thrift store a few years ago and threw some new wire in... works like a charm now. It's a mono amp so I didn't feel the need for two speakers. The speaker I swiped from a friend's trash pile. He said they didn't work, so I took both speakers, rewired them and they sound great for what they are.

Sounds pretty good. Nothing like the actual high end system I have in the living room. I'm a bit of an audiophile and have pieced it together part by part over the past six or eight years. But for what I'm using this for, it's perfect.

Didn't cost much but a few minutes to dig up all the parts.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Young Superstars #27 - Wally Joyner

Though he played for a number of teams during his career, when I think Wally Joyner, I think California Angels. Between two stints in Anaheim, Joyner spent time in Kansas City, San Deigo and Atlanta.

In 1986, Joyner was the first rookie to be voted into the All Star game by fans and that year he tied for the win with Darryl Strawberry in the Home Run Derby. He and Strawberry both hit an amazing four home runs.

Though he remained consistent through his sixteen year career, Joyner was never really a superstar caliber player. Honestly, as closely as I've followed the Braves for the past 20 years, I'd forgotten about his year in Atlanta. He spent most of the year as a backup at first for Andres Galarraga, but did start in 32 games and was used as a DH for some interleague games. If Galarraga hadn't been able to come back in 2000 (he missed the entire 1999 season with cancer) Joyner most likely would have been the starter.

Several years after his retirement, Joyner told ESPN The Magazine that he had used steroids for a brief time during his days with the Padres. He had appearantly talked with Ken Caminiti (who we'll see pretty soon) about how to get steroids, though he claims he only took several of the pills. He was mentioned in the 2007 Mitchell Report.

This is another card where the fans are so blurry that they look painted. Aside from that, and I may have mentioned this before, I really like the old Angels cap logo. I wish they'd make things easier on all of us and just call themselves the California Angels again.

Wally Joyner's career statistics

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mail day part 2: 1981 Topps

I'm collecting this set because I was born in 1981. But also because I think it's one of Topps' most interesting designs. While it doesn't really have that classic baseball card feel that a set like 1954, 1971, 1987 or 1991 Topps has, it's quirky and unique but still well designed.

1981 is also the first year that Topps had any competition in the industry. Of the three major baseball sets available that year, I think Topps is the clear winner. Donruss had a nice design, but poor quality stock and not very well thought out card backs (they were ok, but could have used more stats). Fleer had superior card backs, but the design and photography were pretty bland.

So let's take a look at a few 1981 Topps.

It's pictures like these that really make me appreciate the effort Topps put into the photography for 2009. This looks more like an amatuer softball league photo. I can only assume this is a spring training shot.

Gorman also looks kinda like a bum wanting handouts at a high school baseball game.

And here we have a prime example of the goofy uniforms of the mid-70s through the late 80s. Of all the bad choices in uniforms, it seems like the White Sox made some of the worst. This one isn't as bad as the red striped one they wore in the mid-80s though. Actually it's not that bad, just silly looking compared to today's slightly more conservative uniforms.

Honestly though, I think it would make a pretty cool throwback uniform. Anyone know if they've ever done this?

Now we come to the design highlight of this set: the hats. I love the hats. I've always loved the hats. The best part is that the hat changes based on the team's hat. The Expos hat was tri-colored, the Pirates hat was just as stupid looking as the real thing, and here we see that the Padres hat has the yellow triangle from their batting helmets. But it didn't translate well to the card. Black text on dark brown is hard to read. The only alternative would have been white, but that would be just as hard to read over the yellow section.

I can't tell because the background is so blurry, but it looks like there's a lot of kids right behind the dugout wearing batting helmets.

Here's another card that makes me appreciate even more the effort that Topps put into their photography this year. Was it too hard to crop this picture to get all of his hat in the shot? It's cropped too high to get any of the lettering on his uniform, so why cut the hat off? Silly, silly Topps.

Nothing really special about this card. I just wanted to point out that Mr. Stewart is from my neck of the woods. He was born in Asheville, North Carolina. He's probably a pretty good candidate for through the mail autograph seekers, because he's not going anywhere. Since 2006 he's been in prison. He has a lengthy criminal record, that all started after he left baseball.

There's something you don't see too often, the pitcher's hat on the ground. I'd never heard of John Pacella before and thought it was odd that they'd use this picture. The I flipped the card over:

There's a taste of 1981 Topps, hope you all enjoyed it. I'd like to thank John for sending me these wonderful cards. I'm not 148 cards into the set.


Mail day part 1: 1987 Topps

Two packages showed up today. Well, actually three, but the third was toys for my cat, so I won't post pictures of that one here.

One from Jeff at Card Junkie, and the other from Phillies fan John, you can see his Phillies Want List here.

We're gonna start with the card from Card Junkie. Several days ago I sent him two of the 2008 Topps Updates & Highlights he needed for his set, and he sent along one of the remaining 1987 Topps cards I need. I'm now down to five.

It's Bob Shirley on a very bright, over exposed day somewhere. It doesn't really look like Yankee Stadium, so maybe a spring training shot. I've never been to Florida, so I don't know if it's bright and over exposed or not.

Check back later for some nifty 1981 Topps goodies from John.

Young Superstars #26 - Mike Dunne

Mike Dunne finished second in Rookie of the Year balloting in 1987, but his career never really took off from there. In his rookie season he went 13-6 with a 3.03 ERA, but went 7-11 the next year with the Pirates. Injuries took their toll and Dunne never pitched more than 99 innings in the final three seasons of his career. His final career line is 25-30, 4.08 ERA, 205 strikeouts, 225 walks in 474+ innings.

His base card is nearly identical to the Young Superstars release. Probably the same pitch.

Mike Dunne's career statistics

Friday, February 20, 2009

Conan Go Bye-Bye

I've been a loyal viewer of Late Night with Conan O'Brien dating back to my freshman year in college (1999). Tonight is his final show before heading out west to take over the Tonight Show when Leno leaves in June.

I figured I'd give him my own send off with another one of my Wii character baseball cards.

I give you 1988 Score Conan O'Brien Wearing a Yellow Jacket and Playing Guitar, the rare black bordered version.

I made the Wii Conan a few months ago when I noticed that there was a hairstyle that kinda looked like his... things just fell into place from there. I need a life.

I'm sorry to say, I'm not really looking forward to Jimmy Fallon taking over, I don't find him terribly funny. And I really hope that once Conan takes over the Tonight Show that things don't change too much. I'm sure he'll have to tone down some of his more off the wall stuff for the earlier time slot, but we'll see.

I kinda sorta halfway began to learn to use GIMP... woo... now maybe I can drift away from MS Paint.

Cards at Wal-Mart part 4

Well... I knew it was too soon to put up a want list for '09 Topps.

I swung by Wal Mart on the way home got my $2.11 cents back, stopped by the card section and what do I find? Jumbo packs. So I bought two.

At least I remembered to also buy my Mountain Dew... er... Mtn Dew... what the hell. I guess the economy has gotten so bad Pepsi can't afford the oun-ai. Oh well, it's still caffeinated goodness.


Oh holy jumping jesus fish! Those two jumbo packs SUCKED! I added 17 SEVENTEEN!!! cards to my set. One more Turkey Red and one more Legends of the Game. Wow, I'm depressed.

At least my Mountain Mtn Dew was good.

Ok, so I'm done ripping packs for a while now. At least until Heritage comes out.


Looking back on it, it was kinda satisfying to slice A-Rod in half with a knife to get to the cards inside. I guess I should be thankful that my knife didn't crumble the second it made contact with his steroid enhanced muscles.

caffeine and beer make me loopy...

Cards at Wal-Mart, part 3...

This is interesting and reaffirms a bit (a tiny bit, but a bit all the same) some of my faith in humanity.

I'm not one to complain (rant maybe, but not formally complain), but I decided to send Wal Mart an email about what was going on in their card section (I didn't tell them about the lady at the customer service counter). Got an email back from them wanting to know store location, number and all that jazz. They also wanted my name, address and number. So I replied and didn't give it another thought.

So I'm sitting here this afternoon and my phone vibrated. I answered and it was the assistant manager from Wal Mart, apologizing for what happened and telling me that it's a big problem.

I told her that I wasn't really complaining and that I know there's not a whole lot they can do about it. She thanked me for my concern, and then told me to bring come by and get a refund. Keep the cards, but come by and get my money back.

So I guess I'll be headed off to Wal Mart this afternoon to get $2. Woo. As close to falling asleep as I am right now, I'll probably use that $2 for Mountain Dew instead of cards... I need caffeine.

Young Superstars #25 - Will Clark

Here's another Young Superstar that I think lived up to that name. He was consistently productive for fifteen seasons and finished his career with a .303 batting average. At first base he was solid and won the Gold Glove in 1991.

The front of the card shows the sweet swing that Will Clark was known for.

If you want to see more Will Clark cards that you can shake a stick at, check out

Will Clark's career statistics

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Young Superstars #24 - Mike Greenwell

Mike Greenwell put up good numbers in all but a few injury shortened seasons with the Red Sox. His life time batting average is over .300, he was an All Star twice. So why is it that you just don't hear too much about Mike Greenwell?

He played on some bad Sox teams and some good Sox teams, though he didn't perform well in the post season (he batted just .146 in 17 post season games). In 1988 he finished second in MVP voting to baseball's first 40-40 man. But since Canseco's admission of cheating, Greenwell has publically stated that he feels the MVP should have been his. But that's a debate for another time.

So why don't we hear much about Mike Greenwell? Because during his most productive days in Boston, there was another guy in the Sox line up who was regularly hittnig .330 and above.

Wade Boggs aside, Mike Greenwell had an outstanding career, the entirety spent with the Boston Red Sox. You don't see that too often anymore.

I'm not sure about the head shot on the reverse, but the photo on the front of this card was not taken at the same game as the base release (both were taken at Fenway though).

Mike Greenwell's career statistics

Ladies and gentlemen, the story you are about to hear is true...

Uh oh. I think I've found a new hobby. Now that I think I'm back into baseball cards full time, my knife hobby has fallen to the wayside. But in reality, I'm not really a knife collector, I buy a knife if I ilke it, but most of the knives I own I've carried at one point or another.

Looking back on it now, the last knife I purchased was a Spyderco about two years ago. That knife cost more than I've spent on baseball cards in the past two years combined. It's an expensive hobby. Hell, the knife I carry every day cost twice what that Spyderco did. It's an extremely expensive hobby, better that I don't think about that.

I still look at knives and there's one that I've got my eye on, but I can't seem to let myself pull the trigger on a $130 pocket knife right now.

But I digress.

Yes I think I've found myself a new hobby and fortunately for my wallet (and my ability to buy baseball cards) this one is free.

When I was a wee one, I'd get to stay up late on Friday and Saturday nights watching old shows on Nick at Nite. Back then Nick at Nite was actually worth watching, and I fell in love with shows like Car 54 Where are You, Mister Ed, I Love Lucy and a lot of others. One show in particular that I enjoyed was Dragnet.

I watched Dragnet every night. I loved it. But then Nick at Nite changed their line up and Dragnet went away.

Fast forward a few years to sometime around 2001. I was a junior in college and for the first time I had access to TV Land. One day I was skipping class (it was probably raining, I skipped class when I didn't want to get wet), lying in bed flipping through the TV and there was Dragnet, oh glorious day.

Then after Dragnet was a show called Adam-12, I'd never seen it. After that was Emergency!, I'd never seen it either. Uh oh, now I was hooked. On Tuesdays and Thursdays that semester I had a 9am class and a 12:30pm class. Somehow I consistently made it to that 9am class, but the 12:30pm class... my batting average was a little lower on that one.

So I'd skip class to watch Dragnet, Adam-12 and Emergency! That class I was skipping was a philosophy class. I probably missed more than half the classes, only turned in one of the five papers on time and wrote the other four drunk the day before final exams. Somehow I managed to get an A despite my poor attendance and what was probably drunken rambling on those papers.

TV Land eventually changed its line up and in the next semesters my class attendance improoved somewhat.

Let's hit that fast forward button once again to 2004 or 2005... not sure which. I was in the Asheville, NC mall with a friend looking around at Suncoast. I never buy anything there because they rape you on the price, but I was browsing around and saw the the first season of the 1967 version of Dragnet on DVD, and next to it was a DVD collection of 25 episodes of the 1951 TV version. Oh crap.

So after watching the black and white version first I put in the color version. The full season fit on two DVDs and the third disc of the set was an old radio episode, but we'll get to that shortly.

OK, we're gonna fast forward one last time to 2008 when I stumbled across this website called Hulu. Actually I stumbled across it looking for information about Adam-12 and what do I find? The first four seasons online, free... oh crap there goes some of my free time. After digging around a little more, I find Emergency! Oh no. A little bit later, I find all four seasons of the color version of Dragnet...

After watching all of that over the past several months I began to get curious about the radio version of Dragnet. Having heard that one episode that was included in the DVD set I knew it was good. So I set out to see if there was more of it online.

I imagined I'd find a few episodes here and there. It's public domain now so it's free if it's out there.

Well, it's out there. In fact the Old Time Radio Researchers Group has well over 300 episodes (Dragnet lasted on radio from 1949 to 1957). Oh no, again. So for the past several days, I've been downloading all the episodes.

After listening to about 15 of them this week, I have to say, you really don't need the TV. You don't lose any bit of the story without the image. It seems strange in a way, but then again it doesn't. I'm only 27, I've never known a time without television and ten years ago if you told me I'd be enjoying a radio show, I'd probably have laughed at you.

Of course there's the old time charm to it and I'm sure that's a little bit of the draw, but as much as I love the 1967-1970 version of Dragnet, the radio show is every bit as good, and better in a lot of ways.

Now I'm intrigued about other old radio shows. I intend to explore the OTRR site and download a few things here and there and see what my grandparents were listening to in the 30s, see what all's out there.

I don't know if I'll gain anything other than a sense of nostalgia out of any of this. But what's a hobby for?

And the best thing abuot this is, I can download a few episodes, put them on my iPod and listen to it in the car or wherever I am and have half an hour to kill.

ok, I've rambled enough and the beer is gone.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Young Superstars #23 - Dave Magadan

Dave Magadan is a player that doesn't really get as much credit as he deserved. He was an outstanding contact hitter in his six seasons with the Mets, but was overlooked on a team with Strawberry, Gooden and an aging Keith Hernandez. After leaving New York he continued to put up repectable numbers at the plate, but in an era of power hitters, he was forgotten. His life time batting average is solid at .288. His .328 in 1990 even earned him a few MVP votes.

He never developed the power the his cousin (and godfather), Lou Piniella mentioned on the back of the card. But the ability to hit the ball to all fields is vital.

Limited playing time hurt his numbers for much of his career and he never could stick as a starter for too long in any one place.

These days, Magadan is the hitting coach for the Boston Red Sox and in his time there, team batting has improved.

The photo on the front of the card shows us a nice level swing, head down to keep the eye on the ball all the way through the strike zone. I'm not sure about the front, but the head shot on the reverse was taken at the same time as the base release.

Dave Magadan's career statistics

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Young Superstars #22 - Luis Polonia

Luis Polonia was a pretty good contact hitter, posting a .293 lifetime average. He even played on two World Series winning teams (1995 Braves, 2000 Yankees). But what he will be most remembered for is a trade on June 21, 1989. He, along with Greg Cadaret and Eric Plunk were sent to the New York Yankees for a 30 year old, future Hall of Fame outfielder. Seems kinda like Oakland got the better end of that deal.

This card gets some points for the field cap under the batting helmet look that you don't see too often these days. Actually, I can't think of anyone that I've seen do this recently... any ideas?

Luis Polonia's career statistics

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cards at Wal-Mart, part 2

It was with great dismay that I discovered this fine afternoon that I was out of peanut butter. Dismay because I'd already spread the jelly on the last two slices of bread...

So off I went to Wal-Mart to get some peanut butter and more bread. I decided that since most of the cards in that raped and violated pack I bought a few days ago were ones that I needed that I'd just keep it. It's not worth the hassle to try and return it again.

With bread and peanut butter in hand, I couldn't help but swing by the card section. This time I was more careful. Still no packs of '09 Upper Deck and the gravity feed box of '09 Topps was nearly empty. I stuck my hand in and out came three packs. All of which had been opened. I didn't even bother to count the cards. Whether or not they'd been opened and searched and were missing anything, I didn't want it.

I'm not sure when the vendors stock this Wal Mart, but I may head over to the Wal Mart in the next town over tomorrow afternoon and see if they have any '09 Topps. I realized why it's so easy for the thieves (at the point where they're taking the inserts and leaving everything else, they're no longer pack searchers, they're thieves) to get cards. The card section is at a register that I've seen open only a few times in the ten years I've lived here. So there's no one around to watch over it.

I guess it's better the way it is, instead of having to ask someone to get a pack for you, but it's still irritating as hell that it's so easy to swipe the cards. I wonder how many packs get stolen because not every pack seems to have the antitheft device on the advertisement card. None of the packs I bought at Target had one... of course, at the Target in Asheville, NC the card section is visible to everyone.

Oh well...

Young Superstars #21 - Ozzie Guillen

Here's our first future manager, the always loveable Ozzie Guillen. As a player, Ozzie was one of what has turned out to be a dying breed, an all glove no hit shortstop. He managed ok with the bat, but his forte was the glove.

He is the owner of a Gold Glove, winner of the 1985 AL Rookie of the Year award, and a three time All Star. Later in life, he added American League Manager of the Year to his resume.

Through 2008, he's managed the White Sox to a 433-378 record, winning the World Series in 2005.

The photo on the front of this card looks like it was taken in Boston (green fence and what looks like a Red Sox cap on the left edge). But the picture on the reverse was taken at the same time as his base 88 Score card. Not sure where though.

Ozzie Guillen's career playing and managerial statistics

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Young Superstars #20 - Bill Ripken

Here's ol' Fuck Face himself. If not for his infamous 1989 Fleer card, and brother was was a marginally better baseball player, Billy Ripken would probably be forgotten in baseball history.

The Fuck Face incident is a shame really, because in all honesty, Billy wasn't a bad ball player. He certainly wasn't the same level of player as his brother Cal, but Billy was a solid defensive second baseman. He even had the opportunity to play on a team with his older brother and be managed by his father, at the same time. That must have been a very special couple of years for the Ripken family.

There's a very good possibility that this photo was taken during the same at bat as his base release photo (it's obvious that they were taken during the same game).

Slightly different angle, but the base card is the beginning of a very awkward and the Young Superstars card is the conclusion of a very awkward swing.

Billy Ripken's career statistics

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Young Superstars #19 - Kelly Downs

This is a pretty unremarkable card. Not much is happening on the front and the picture on the reverse is one of the worst headshots thus far in the set.

According to the back of the card, Al Rosen was counting on Downs in 1988, and he did a pretty good job of living up to the boss's expectations in his only season as a starter winning 13 games. But after '88 he was used primarily as a reliever and spot starter and wasn't very effective for the remainder of his career.

Kelly Downs' career statistics

Friday, February 13, 2009

Young Superstars #18 - Matt Williams

Matt Williams is out second real superstar thus far, the other being McGwire. He was a sure handed third baseman who won four gold gloves. And at the plate he was a feared power hitter. Though he never put up the home run totals that some sluggers of his generation did, he still managed to put 378 balls over the fence. In 1994 he was chasing the single season home run record when the strike cancelled the rest of the season.

Williams was involved in the deal that sent Jeff Kent to the Giants for the 1997 season.

Since his retirement, he's been linked to steriods, HGH and other drugs in several different reports.

Matt Williams' career statistics

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wal-Mart can kiss my shiny metal ass...

Yesterday afternoon I was in Wal Mart buying some french onion soup (for the tasty tasty london broil that I intend to make for dinner tomorrow night) and swiss cheese. I was in a hurry but decided to swing by the card section to see if there were any '09 UD cards. There weren't, so I decided to pick up some more Topps. Bought five packs. But it wasn't until I got home that I realized that one of them was open and a card was missing.


Victimized by pack searchers. Honestly, what the fuck are you going to get out of retail that you need to leave the open, raped pack on the shelf? Just steal the whole damn thing.

No big deal I guess, most of the remaining cards in the pack were ones that I needed, but just because I felt violated I decided I was going to take it back and get another one. So this evening I head to Wal Mart and go to the customer service desk and wait.

Did you know they actually have signs at the customer service center alerting customers that you cannot return any products covered with bodily fluids?

After standing in line I was very nice to the lady at the counter. "I bought this yesterday afternoon and it was open and missing a card." I handed her my receipt. In the past I've never had trouble returning anything to Wal Mart, usually without receipt (like the pool cue that I broke when I was drunk and pissed off... they exchanged that no questions asked, and I was still drunk when I took it back). But this time, with receipt in hand, the bitch said "no, can I help the next person?" Wait just a fucking second here... I'm still in line, you're not getting away with it that easily.

"Why can't I just exchange it?" They can just throw it in reclaim, the vendor can pick it up, write it off as theft and replace it to the store, no one loses... I worked in retail for five years, I know how it works.

"There's no proof it was open in the store." Uh. There's no proof that any of these people standing in line have a legitimate claim about any of the shit that they're returning. The lady behind me was trying to return a pillow... I have no doubts that that used pillow was going right back on the sales floor.

So I left. Ok, so I'm only out two bucks, but it's the principle of the thing. I'm gonna try again tomorrow. Demand a manager if I have to. I can be an ass if I have to be, so don't fuck with me.

Sometimes I kinda think the pack searchers are most likely the vendor. I doubt that in this case, but the vendor can just write off a pack or two here and there as reclaim (damage or theft) and no one is the wiser.

Oh well.

Young Superstars #17 - John Kruk

John Kruk is best known for his time with the Phillies during the first half of the 1990s, where he was the essense of a blue collar baseball player (just read the quote on the back of this card). He was tough as nails and not afraid to get dirty. Kruk, Darren Daulton and Lenny Dykstra turned me into a Phillie fan after they beat the Braves in the NLCS in '93. They were fun to watch and brought their hard drinking, hard partying attitude onto the field with them.

These days Kruk can be seen as an analyst for ESPN where I think he's probably the best on Baseball Tonight these days. He's not afraid to say what he thinks.

What jumps out at you immediately from this picture is how skinny he was.

This is the John Kruk we all remember.

John Kruk's career statistics

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

In the Year 2000: The Fourth Blog Bat Around Edition

This is a hard one. Where will we be in ten years?

It’s hard to comprehend the passage of time. The older I get, the faster it seems to go by. It amazes me to no end that ten years ago this fall I was going off to college and leaving home for the first time. Somehow I’m a now productive member of society. When did that happen? Where did ten years go?

Let’s start by looking back ten years. In 1999 I was nearly five years removed from my last baseball card purchase and honestly wasn’t thinking too much about baseball cards. I still don’t know a lot about the hobby in the late 90s.

I was still a baseball fan, but had moved on from buying cards. In the late 90s my money was going towards music equipment (I’m a violinist and also play viola, mandolin and guitar) and I don’t really remember having other hobbies at that time.

In college I met a few people who were collecting baseball cards and they were talking a lot about some of the new technology. At least new to me. They were going on and on about refractors and I was still talking about my prized Steve Avery Rated Rookie.

While we’re on the topic of Steve Avery, let’s go back another nine years and start from there. 1990 was the prime of my card collecting days. I never really imagined turning any of my cards into profit though. Sure I had the little kid fantasy of some day owning a Mantle or Aaron rookie or some other ultra-rare old card.

I started following the Braves pretty closely around 89 and started hearing all this talk about a kid named Steve Avery. By 1990 that talk was getting louder and louder and I started to get interested. I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but Steve Avery was born in 1970 and it seemed strange to me that this guy who was only eleven years older than me was going to play in the Big Leagues.

At that point in my card collecting days I wasn’t buying singles. In fact I’ve bought very few single cards in my time. But for some reason I thought that the Steve Avery Rated Rookie in 1990 Donruss was THE card to have. I don’t know why. At least I don’t remember why. I was nine years old.

I think I paid five dollars for that card and I cherish it to this day. Did I buy it thinking it would be worth millions? Probably. Would I have sold it if it was? Probably not. I don’t know if I understood the idea of an investment at that point. I certainly understood the value of money and the inherent value of certain objects, but I don’t think I understood the concept of buying something to hold onto for a period of time and then selling it.

So let’s jump forward almost twenty years and see what that card is worth. Not a whole lot. Certainly not worth the five dollars I paid for it. But there’s worth that goes beyond money. And that card is certainly valuable to me. Also equally valuable to me is my newly completed 1988 Score set. I don’t know what it’s book value is, probably no more than $10 to $15, but to me it’s priceless. I started building that set when I was seven years old and now twenty years later it’s finished. It’s worth a lot of time and it’s worth a lot of joy, but you can’t trade that in for a cup of coffee.

The industry is different today. Things aren’t as over produced as they were twenty years ago, but I don’t know if that means anything in terms of monetary value. Baseball cards aren’t like houses.

The rookie card of the next best thing may bring $500 on ebay today, but next month it may sell for a buck and a half. Baseball cards may be a good temporary investment, but it’s just like the stock market. There certainly is money to be made, but it’s all a matter of timing. If you sell a day too early or a day too late you could lose out on huge profits. There’s just no way to tell which way the market is going to go.

A rookie pitcher, a top prospect, could have an autograph card going for $1000 on ebay. Someone buys it with the intention of making a profit on it. They decide to wait until the season starts in hopes that some actual national exposure will push the price up. Opening day rolls around. This top prospect comes in the game in the bottom of the sixth in a blow out. Toes the rubber and fires his first big league pitch, feels something pop and spends the next eighteen months rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. What happens to his hobby value then?

That $1000 has quickly turned into a flap of cardboard with a picture of a guy on it who may never throw another pitch in his life.

$1000 is a lot of money to have riding on the ligaments in a 22 year old kid’s elbow.

He may not even get hurt, he may just get knocked around for several years bouncing up and down between Triple A and the big club, then spend the next ten playing for nine different teams.

If there’s an investment to be made in a baseball card, and in turn a baseball player, the rookie card certainly isn’t where it’s at, at least not initially. If he makes it five years, then his cards may be a safe investment.

But I don’t think the word investment in the baseball card hobby has the same meaning as the word investment you’ll find in a dictionary. I think the word people are looking for when they say investment is actually prospecting.

Buying that $1000 rookie card isn’t an investment, it’s prospecting on the hope that he’ll turn out a Hall of Fame career. Sadly that doesn’t happen often. I think it’ll be a while before we see another truly gifted player. With Maddux gone I don’t know how many more future HoF’ers are in the league right now. Chipper Jones is a lock, Pujols, Jeter maybe… Evan Longoria? It’s certainly too early to invest too much in his career.

Less than 1% of people who put on a Major League uniform will make the Hall of Fame. A good number of those will have good careers, some great careers. But it’s too hard to know where to begin when it comes to predicting the monetary value of a card printed today in ten years.

I think we have to look at the value to us as collectors and not value to the market. Where do we place our value? Where do we choose to put our time and money? For me its in set building and while the 2009 Topps set I’m about half way through may not be worth anything in ten years, it’ll certainly be full of fond memories and there’s no way to put a numerical value on that.

The baseball cards we buy today and put in a binder and eventually into a closet may be the catalyst for a future generation of collectors.

I liken it to great music. Once every generation some kid finds a record in his parent’s collection and thinks it’s the greatest thing ever. He thinks he’s the first person in the world to discover this great music. That’s true value. Value that transcends generations and time. Something that means as much in ten, twenty or a hundred years as it does right now is priceless.

So to answer the question, I have no answer. To me there is no answer. If I’m still interested in this hobby in ten years, then every card I own is important. If I’m not interested, maybe someone else will be inspired by what I’ve collected in the past twenty years.

Young Superstars #16 - Terry Steinbach

Terry Steinbach was a three time All Star in the late 80s, and MVP of the '88 Mid-Summer Classic. He was also a part of Oakland's 1989 World Series championship team.

I remember Terry Steinbach very well from his time with the A's in the late 80s and for some reason I seemed to have a lot of his cards. Every year during the World Series I'd go through my baseball cards and get out as many as I could of players on the two teams. When I got back into collecting in '08, a lot of my late 80s Dodgers and A's cards were still together.

The green in the border goes very well with his equipment and the card gets points for a catcher in full gear (it's be better if he had his mask on, but you don't always get what you want). The picture on the reverse of the card looks too much like a mugshot. This is also the first card showing a player doing something other than batting or pitching. However, it's not a very interesting picture.

Terry Steinbach's career statistics

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Young Superstars #15 - Mike Henneman

Mike Henneman was a relief pitcher his entire career. He served as the Tigers primary closer for much of his tenure with the team and his 154 saves in a Tigers uniform is second only to Todd Jones. He was an All Star in 1989 though he didn't play.

The card gets points for the ball in flight out of his hand.

Mike Henneman's career statistics

Monday, February 9, 2009

2009 Topps pack five

This is the final pack of 2009 Topps I bought a few days ago. So far I'm very pleased with the design of these cards. They're not perfect, but they're better than '08. We'll do this again when I get my hands on some '09 UD.

76 Marcus Thames
213 Jeremy Sowers

210 Geovany Soto All Star Rookie - 2008 National League Rookie of the Year
328 Doug Mientkiewicz
266 Todd Wellemeyer
286 Odalis Perez

LG23 Carl Yastrzemski - Another beatuful card.
TTT18 Miguel Cabrera
64 Miguel Montero
29 Jerry Hairston
33 Jose Guillen
142 Brad Penny

There, wasn't that fun?

Young Superstars #14 - Chris James

For the first time, there's not really a lot to say. As a player he was just average, but he was involved in two important trades in 1989.

In June he was sent to the Padres in a deal for John Kruk (who we'll see here in a few days). And in December he was traded to the Indians, along with Carlos Baerga and Sandy Alomar, for Joe Carter.

The front of this card is held together nicely by the blue border and the burgandy of the Phillies logo. James looks a bit confused on the back of the card though.

Chris James' career statistics

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Organization... HELP!

I know everyone decided to get organized at New Years. Well, I'm a little bit behind. I've got all my cards fairly well organized (year, set, number), but I can't even begin to tell you what I've got.

The sets that I'm currently working on are very organized. I've made spreadsheets telling me what I have and how many I have. I've realized how much simpler this makes trades. But if I'm not trading 88 Score or 87 Topps, I have to go through card by card.

What I'm looking for is some sort of database software that has all the sets included. I don't want to have to enter every card I have by hand (but give the option to create new sets by hand). Ideally I'd like something that I could click on a set, then card number or player's name and enter a quantity. It'd be nice if this program could print reports by set or by player or however I wanted it. I'd also prefer it to be free.

Does such a thing exist? Back in the late 90s when I was playing Magic the Gathering I had a program exactly like I described. It had every card in the database and all you had to do was enter the quantity you had. The program would make a report for you for everything from set, to color and even mana cost. It was great.

I've downloaded a few programs over the past few months, but none are what I'm looking for. It doesn't have to be a marvel of technology, the old MtG program I had was DOS based.

Any ideas, or should I keep using my spreadsheets?


Here's an idea of how my spreadsheet database looks. Right now it only contains 81, 87, 89, 09 Topps and 88 Score. I got the checklists from Baseball Almanac and pasted it into Excel. The X column is for extras.

A lot of work went into it, but I'd still trash this for something simpler.

1981 Topps

I was out of town over the weekend, so it's nice to see that the place didn't fall apart and my autopilot posts worked. While I was gone, the mailman left me an envelope from Doug at the Topps Baseball Cards blog with seven more 1981 Topps cards to add to my small collection. I had sent him two of the three 87 Topps he needed to complete his set. I wish I could have sent him the third one, but until last week, it was one of the cards that I was missing. Oh well.

Like I've said many times, my ultimate goal is to complete this set, card by card. I'm in no hurry to complete it, it's just a side project.

I've always really liked the design of this set. I love the hats, especially the Topps hat on the team cards.

Thanks Doug, the cards are great!

2009 Topps pack four

35 David Price
140 Brandon Webb
243 Chase Headley
117 Ron Gardenhire
176 AL RBI Leaders

TR34 Kelly Johnson - Turkey Red looks nice again this year, and it's a Brave!
TTT9 Ryan Howard
293 Brian Bixler
302 Brian Giles
146 Glen Perkins
280 Joe Saunders

99 Juan Castro - This is a great photo.

Young Superstars #13 - Nelson Liriano

Nelson Liriano entered the league at 23 and was done by the time he was 34. It seems like most of the teams he played for turned into pretty good teams shortly after he left (Toronto in 92, Minnesota in 91, Colorado in 95).

These days he's managing in the Royals farm system.

This card gets major points for the old-school Blue Jays uniform and logo. The Jays always had my favorite logo back in the 80s.

Nelson Liriano's career statistics

Saturday, February 7, 2009

2009 Topps pack three

255 Joe Crede
295 Derrek Lee
205 Miguel Tejada

201 Classic Combos (Saltalamacchia/Hamilton) - These are the checklists. I've always been a fan of an old school checklist, but I like these a lot. It makes the checklist interesting and still inserts them throughout the set.
206 NL ERA Leaders

LLP9 Legends of the Game Roberto Clemente - This is a Wal-Mart exclusive insert, and an absolutely beautiful card. Very classy design. It's a shame the silver foil doesn't scan, it's a beautiful touch on these cards.
TTT10 Jake Peavy
299 Cole Hamels Postseason Highlights
309 Humberto Sanchez
279 Ryan Church
215 Ian Kinsler
296 Reid Brignac